Middleton leads Bucks past 76ers 116-106
A little veteran leadership got the young Milwaukee Bucks back
on the winning track.
Caron Butler scored 22 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished
out four assists in his return to the lineup after missing 12 games
with a swollen left knee, leading the Bucks to a 106-96 victory
over the Philadelphia 76ers Saturday night.
”The thing this team has desperately missed from him is his
leadership,” Milwaukee coach Larry Drew said of the 12-year NBA
veteran. ”Throughout the game he was on the court talking, pumping
his teammates up. We had a couple of bad stretches, but he kept the
guys positive. That’s something we’ve missed with him being
The hot-shooting Bucks recovered from consecutive overtime
losses to pick up just their sixth win of the season. Khris
Middleton scored 27 points and Brandon Knight added 21 points and
six assists for the Bucks (6-21).
Butler played nearly 40 minutes in his return, something that
Drew said wasn’t part of the game plan for the chronically
”Coach stayed in my ear consistently the whole game asking me
how I felt,” Butler said. ”I got a rhythm early. We had the game
under control from the beginning.”
Milwaukee, owner of the league’s worst record, led most of the
game and built a 19-point cushion early in the fourth quarter,
matching its largest lead in any game this season. The 76ers pulled
within seven with about one minute remaining, but the Bucks
converted 10 consecutive free throws to secure the win.
Butler praised Middleton, a second-year player, and rookies
Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had 12 points and seven rebounds, and
Miroslav Raduljica, who contributed a season-high 14 points.
”(Middleton) did a great job of loosening up everything. He was
finding pockets and getting in the paint and hitting floaters. I
thought Giannis did a great job continuing to run the floor.
(Raduljica) was huge. He was banging down there and making good
decisions and keeping the ball high and not turning it over.”
The injury-depleted Bucks played without starting center John
Henson, who bruised his knee in a collision with the Cavalier’s
Anderson Varejao in the loss at Cleveland Friday night. Henson’s
absence left Middleton as the lone Milwaukee player to appear in
all 27 games this season.
Raduljica, who has played sparingly at times this season, filled
in nicely in Henson’s absence.
”I’m here to help and I think I’m doing that every time I get a
chance,” Raduljica said. ”We had two really unlucky losses and we
had Caron back with great energy and he gathered us around him and
everybody took part of his energy and that allowed us to win.”
Thaddeus Young had 30 points and 10 rebounds to lead
Philadelphia. Spencer Hawes added 25 points and 11 rebounds.
Both teams were coming off overtime games Friday. The Bucks lost
114-111 at Cleveland, their fifth consecutive defeat, while the
76ers nipped the Brooklyn Nets 121-120 at home.
”As a group, our only hope to play some semblance of NBA
defense is by committee,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. ”When
different pieces go missing, or it is not a collective toughness
and focus, then we are vulnerable. At times we were vulnerable
tonight. In general, trying to find 48 minutes worth of defense has
been a problem.”
The Bucks shot 52 percent from the field for the game, compared
with 41 percent for the 76ers.
”You are not going to win a whole lot of games giving up that
kind of efficiency to the other team,” Hawes said.
After trailing by 10 at the half, the 76ers opened the third
quarter with an 8-0 run. The Bucks regained control with a 15-4 run
midway through the quarter and held an 85-72 heading into the
fourth. Middleton led the Bucks with 10 points in the quarter.
The Bucks held a double-digit lead for nearly the entire second
quarter, growing their margin to as many as 15 with two minutes
remaining. Milwaukee, bolstered by 51 percent shooting over the
first two quarters, held a 59-49 lead at halftime. Knight had 17
first-half points, while Butler added 13 points and seven
Young had 15 points and eight rebounds in the first half for
Philadelphia, which shot just 40 percent.
The Bucks grabbed a 29-23 lead after the first quarter, paced by
Middleton’s seven points.
NOTES: Philadelphia has lost 12 consecutive road games. . Former
MLB star and one-time Milwaukee Brewers executive Sal Bando visited
Bucks’ coach Larry Drew before the game. ”Sal played in Kansas
City, which is where I’m from. He was one of my heroes. I came up
playing baseball. It was my passion. Basketball was secondary,”
Drew said. . The Bucks used their 15th different starting lineup in
27 games this season.